Author

Kate Masters

Kate Masters

An award-winning reporter, Kate grew up in Northern Virginia before moving to the Midwest, earning her degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She spent a year covering gun violence and public health for The Trace in Boston before joining The Frederick News-Post in Frederick County, Md. While at the News-Post, she won first place in feature writing and breaking news from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, and Best in Show for her coverage of the local opioid epidemic. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md.

Northam relaxes restrictions on gatherings, entertainment and restaurants as vaccination numbers climb

By: - April 22, 2021

Starting May 15, Virginia will significantly relax capacity restrictions on social gatherings and entertainment venues as COVID-19 numbers plateau across much of the state. Gov. Ralph Northam announced the latest rollback in a video message on Thursday, citing the state’s continued progress in vaccinations. Data from the Virginia Department of Health indicates that more than […]

Staffing shortages are overwhelming Virginia’s psychiatric hospitals

By: - April 21, 2021

Staffing shortages have left Virginia’s mental hospitals overwhelmed as the facilities continue to struggle with a surging patient population. It’s a problem that’s only grown worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alison Land, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, told state lawmakers Tuesday that low pay, burnout and growing […]

Virginia’s mass vaccination sites for vulnerable communities are faltering. Why is there still a gulf in vaccine rates?

By: - April 19, 2021

Over the last month, state and federal officials have directed thousands of COVID-19 vaccines to large-scale clinics in vulnerable communities with high rates of coronavirus cases — all in areas with significant or majority Black and Latino populations. The sites have been touted by leaders as a core strategy in expanding access to vaccines among […]

Virginia hospitals saw fewer births and more substance abuse-related stays in 2020

By: - April 14, 2021

Hospitals in Virginia recorded a significant decline in birth-related visits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while alcohol- and drug-related hospitalizations rose compared to previous years The data on substance use wasn’t a surprise amid a once-in-a-century public health crisis that’s seen record numbers of fatal overdoses across Virginia and nationwide. State officials have been highlighting the […]

There’s a temporary halt on Johnson & Johnson vaccinations in Virginia. Here’s why

By: - April 14, 2021

Virginia will temporarily stop administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as federal health agencies review six reported cases — out of millions of doses administered — of blood clots developed in patients within two weeks of receiving the shot. In a Tuesday statement, state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said the pause would […]

Virginia will temporarily stop administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine as federal agencies review a rare potential side effect

By: - April 13, 2021

Virginia will temporarily stop administering doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as federal health agencies review six reported cases — out of millions of doses administered — of blood clots developed in patients within two weeks of receiving the shot. In a Tuesday statement, state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said the pause would […]

COVID-19 cases are growing among younger Virginians, worrying state health officials

By: - April 12, 2021

Virginia data suggests that children and younger adults are contributing in a major way to the continued spread of COVID-19 — a trend that’s worrying health officials as the state continues a vaccination campaign described by many experts as “a race between variants and the vaccine.” “The overall number of cases in Virginia has really […]

Virginia doctors worry that pandemic burnout could push providers out of the field

By: - April 9, 2021

One of Dr. Riva Kamat’s most jarring memories from the past year was an 11-year-old patient struggling to breathe. “He was COVID-positive, he was doing initially quite well, and then he started going downhill very quickly from a respiratory standpoint,” said Kamat, a pediatric hospital physician at Inova health system in Northern Virginia. Before the […]

Virginia to pilot COVID-19 testing program in public schools

By: - April 5, 2021

Virginia is one of a growing number of states exploring testing as a way to combat COVID-19 in K-12 schools. Dr. Laurie Forlano, a deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Health, said the agency is launching a pilot program to provide rapid antigen tests to schools across the state. VDH is rolling out the […]

Virginia’s HIV transmission penalty will remain on the books

By: - April 2, 2021

Many Virginians living with HIV were hoping for a total repeal of the state’s “infected sexual battery” law — a section of code that makes it a felony for someone living with HIV, syphilis or Hepatitis B to engage in sexual activity “with the intent to transmit the infection to another person.” But advocates said […]

Virginia to expand vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older by mid-April

By: - April 1, 2021

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the state will expand vaccine eligibility to all Virginians 16 and older by April 18. The news puts Virginia nearly two weeks ahead of the May 1 deadline set by President Joe Biden earlier this month. In a news release, the administration said that nearly every high-risk Virginian who […]

Virginia teachers are going to be assessed on ‘cultural competency.’ What does that mean?

By: - April 1, 2021

Makya Little was helping her fourth-grade daughter review for the Virginia Studies SOL, a standardized test on state history, when she found herself taken aback by one of the questions on the study guide. “She gets to this one question that says ‘What’s the status of the early African?’” said Little, who lives in Prince […]